PA Enacts Historic Special Education Funding Reforms

June 14, 2013 –  Governor Corbett signed into law today historic legislation to fix Pennsylvania’s broken special education funding and accountability system.

Act 3 establishes a legislative commission to develop — for the first time in the Commonwealth — a funding formula for special education that uses accurate student counts and addresses actual student needs.

Advocates from 40 different organizations throughout Pennsylvania support this legislation, which was nearly adopted in 2012.

“This is historic,” said Rhonda Brownstein, Executive Director of the Education Law Center, one of the lead advocacy groups supporting this legislation. “The commission will outline a much-needed approach for funding special education in Pennsylvania — one that takes into account accurate data and real student needs.”

Rep. Bernie O’Neill and Sen. Pat Browne were lead bill sponsors and will be a part of the commission.

“We want to thank our legislative champions — Representative O’Neill and Senator Browne — for their work on the legislation, and, of course, we want to thank all of our advocates throughout the state for their commitment and dedication to seeing this bill passed,” said Pam Klipa, Special Education & Training Coordinator for The Arc of Pennsylvania.

The Commission established by the legislation will begin work next month and make its recommendations in September. The funding formula established by the Commission would be applied to any new dollars added to the state’s special education line item.

Districts could utilize any new state special education funding to improve programs and supports and other best practices that benefit students with disabilities, such as meeting state and federal performance indicators and providing curricula adaptation, co-teaching, assistive technology, and school-wide positive behavior supports.


The Education Law Center is a non-profit, statewide legal advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania’s children have access to a quality public education.


Brett Schaefer
Education Law Center
Office: 215-238-6970 ext. 334
Mobile: 215-519-6522
[email protected]

ELC Releases Spanish Language Version of Early Childhood Learning Guide

June 1, 2013 – The Education Law Center recently released a Spanish language version of its Family Guide to Inclusive Early Childhood Learning in Pennsylvania: Guía sobre el Aprendizaje Temprano Incluyente para Familias Residentes en Pennsylvania.

The guide is a quick and easy resource to inclusive early childhood learning programs in Pennsylvania for parents of children with developmental delays or disabilities. It describes eight different early childhood learning programs, including Early Head Start and Head Start, Infant and Toddler and Preschool Early Intervention, and Pre-K Counts, and provides information for parents on child development and how to find quality early learning programs.

The guide offers parent tools, problem-solving tips, and information about the legal rights of parents and children to early childhood learning programs. It also gives links to websites and other resources to help parents and others navigate the full range of early childhood opportunities in Pennsylvania.

The project is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council. The guide can be downloaded here or on the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council’s website at

The Education Law Center is available to provide free training to groups of parents, early childhood educators, social workers, and others on the entire guide or portions of the guide.

For more information or to schedule a training, please contact Nancy Hubley in Pittsburgh at [email protected] or (412) 258-2120.